COMING IN JUNE 2020
TWO EXCEEDINGLY RARE 54TH MASSACHUSETTS SILVER ID PINS, ISSUED TO TWO AFRICAN-AMERICAN SURVIVORS OF FORT WAGNER.
inv # 02-13543
One of the most notable & famous Black units of the Civil War was the 54th Massachusetts. These 2 silver ID pins are extremely rare, as only a handful of these were produced & only a small number of them survived.
BADGE 1. There are only a handful of these 1 1/4” distinct 54th Mass. “Fort Sumpter” badges mfg. by B. T. Hayward of NYC engraved with the 54ths battles of “Fort Wagner”, “James Island”, “Olustee” & “Darien”. This badge is inscribed “J. M. TOWNSEND, 54 MASS VOL”. James M. Townsend enlisted April 29, 1863 as a 20 year old private. He traveled from OH to MA to join this regiment. He participated & survived the war including the assault on Fort Wagner. He mustered out in August 1865 & returned home and attended Oberlin Academy. He worked as a school principal & later as a pastor in several IN churches. In 1876 Townsend was elected assistant secretary of the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s national conference; in 1878 he was named missionary secretary of the church. In that capacity he traveled abroad & was delegate in London at conference in 1881. Upon his return to America, he moved to Richmond, IN and in 1885 was elected state legislator being only the second African American to be elected. Townsend was a vigorous advocate of civil rights. He introduced a bill to abolish all distinctions of race in state laws, including marriage and the military; even though his bill did not pass, a bill did pass banning discrimination in public places. In 1889 President Benjamin Harrison named Townsend recorder of the General Land Office in Washington, DC. Townsend resigned the office in 1891 and returned to Richmond, IN and served as pastor of Bethel AME church. He died in Richmond June 17, 1913.
BADGE 2. Charles Noe enlisted in Company A, 54 MA Infantry at the age of 26 on March 4, 1863 as a private. Charles was born in Enfield, CT. and worked as a teamster. He was promoted to corporal Dec. 1, 1863 just after his marriage in Springfield, MA. He mustered out in Charleston, SC in August 1865. He died in 1878 & is buried in the Springfield Cemetery, Springfield, MA. In the 2013 Smithsonian text, “100 Treasures of the Smithsonian Collection” is illustrated as item 89 another of these rare “Badges of Honor” of the 54th Mass.